There is much to be said for moving countries in your mid 30s. You are less susceptible to popular culture and can easily identify what will make you feel better. Things seem familiar yet alien but your mind tells you that you need to give it time before you feel like you are home in this new country. Your intellect knows it all but your emotional side just refuses to wait.
Almost 4 months later New York is still new. New in its smells, sounds, with its friendly yet aloof strangers, with its ready acceptance of people who do not look like the norm and yet the certainty that you will be always alone and revel in it. That perhaps is the best gift. In some ways, with the crowds and noise, New York lets me be the way Mumbai let me be.
I think the most important thing I am missing in New York (and it was hard won in Mumbai too) is my ability to feel comfortable in my skin. It took me many years to find it in Mumbai but in New York I seem to be grappling again. It might have much to do with the fact that I am relying on other people’s experience to increase my familiarity. I need to be sure that even though it is a new city, the person in me is still the same. So it may be spring/ summer and it is okay to not to always shave your limbs smooth! Or have make up in place just for a cup of coffee. Or do the thing because it is the thing to do.
It might be harder right now but better in the long run.
The more I think about conditioning I realise how difficult it is to fight it. Most often than most we are not even aware of it. Shopping is a good instance to identify how much of conditioning we face and how small things can make us stumble.
When I dress in the morning, I like my jeans and tee and little jewellery. It’s too hot to put on makeup. I pile my hair up and leave for a day of walking and shopping.
Towards the end of the day I feel fat, ungainly, ill-dressed, unkempt
and all round, unwanted. Nobody has actively done anything to me. (some might even say then to get affected is to be overly sensitive). Much of it has to do with not being able to sustain that feeling that I felt when I was getting dressed in the morning.
Casual comments like bad skin, big legs, thick ankles, disguise the fat well .. tend to brind me down further. The best part? These comments are not even directed at me. Why is that my self-worth is comparitive?
Do I feel I have to judge myself constantly because I see others doing the same? Does it mean I cannot be happy with myself (body included) because I see no one who is? Does it mean I have to pretend to be unhappy even I am not, just to fit in? But then I am not being myself at the cost of wanting to blend in.
While I was going to these thoughts while shopping, I was having a chat with another friend. The chat made me feel like such a fraud because I was telling her to be/do things I was having a tough time keeping up with.
But fighting it means fighting it till you can and then there will come a time when you might have to fake it (the fight). So do that. One day there will be a day when you get up feeling good and go to bed feeling just as good.
Words create pictures in the mind.
Then, you remember someone once said
a picture speaks a thousand words.
And you realise you don’t have
those thousand words
to describe the picture in the first place.
..that will help me summarize and document a life decision, here is a fantastic post you must read.
It speaks to me like the very moment when I bought a pair of jeans and I didn’t have to struggle to fit in to them. That day I walked out feeling like a million bucks. This post speaks to me because, even today, before I go shopping I have to fortify myself. Steel myself for not jumping out of the trial room and heading straight to the nearest biggest bar of chocolate and drown myself in self pity.
Is learning from an old experience mean avoiding it altogether in the future or dealing with it differently?